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Putti of science

You might think of them as angels or cherubs, but the chubby little winged boys which became popular in renaissance painting are also known as putti, and they have their roots in classical antiquity. Since their revival in the 15th century as secular rather than religious figures, they have often taken on the role of illustrating science and scientific principles. By turns reverent and cheeky, they even make their way into a safe sex poster of the 1980s.

Words by Danny Birchall

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Photograph of Danny Birchall

Danny Birchall

Danny is Wellcome Collection's Digital Content Manager.